Audiobook Issues

I really want to like audiobooks, but I’m having some issues.

Here’s the thing: I started a job last year that has about a 25-minute commute. Nothing terrible or crazy, but long enough that I went from ecstatically rocking out every time Taylor Swift came on the radio (don’t judge, you knowΒ  you do it too) to getting really tired of all the repetitive songs and commercials. Audiobooks seemed like the perfect solution–I love books, and I have almost an hour of extra time each day that could be used to listen to them.

But! I’m a terrible listener. I don’t mean when I’m talking to someone one-on-one, but as part of an audience. In school, I always had difficulty paying attention in lectures; I always ended up teaching all of the material to myself later from notes and textbooks, unable to absorb things spoken aloud. I was a good student; it’s just that I’m not an auditory learner. And I quickly found this becoming a large hurdle to my audiobook enjoyment.

I’m an audiobook newbie; I’ve only listened to about five or so audiobooks total. But I’ve also started several that I’ve had to DNF because I was just not able to focus on them, for whatever reason. I have a hard time pinpointing why; I’m sure the narrator was doing a good job, and the stories were interesting enough, but my listening skills were just not up to par.

Only two audiobooks, so far, have really worked for me:

Why Not Me? by Mindy KalingReady Player One

I really enjoyed Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? because Mindy is so conversational and relatable–I could easily focus on the book because it was like we were chatting, and I just happened to be feeling very quiet at the time. And Ready Player One was just so funny and action-packed that I never even had a chance to think about whether I was paying attention; I couldn’t help it.

I’ve also tried these, and although I finished them, they weren’t great for me:

BossypantsModern RomanceAnansi Boys (American Gods, #2)

The thing is, I’d love to keep audiobooks a part of my commuting routine, but I keep striking out with the books I try.

So I’m looking for recommendations–does anyone have any suggestions for me of audiobooks you loved?

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April TBR and Getting Psyched for Dewey’s Readathon!

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It’s my favorite part of the month: the part where I make a massive TBR list that I then immediately start to deviate from. I ranked these in order of most likely to actually read this month to least likely.

There are a couple of factors that went into my TBR decisions this month: I need to bounce back from my most recent book I thought I’d love that was just okay (Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman) and, more excitingly, I need to plan for Dewey’s 24-hour readathon on April 23rd!!!

I participated in the most recent Dewey’s readathon in October, and had an amazing time reading straight through Carry On by Rainbow Rowell in one day. I read a graphic novel too! It’s a fun and interactive celebration of reading, and I’m pumped to participate again this month. Unfortunately, I have to work the morning of the Readathon, but am planning on audiobooking to and from work and then getting down to hardcore reading/blogging as soon as I get home. I’ll be posting a more specific pre-Readathon game plan later in the month πŸ™‚

So, here’s what I’m looking to read during April:

 

Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)Jackaby (Jackaby, #1)

Jackaby by William Ritter – I already started listening to this audiobook, and it’s totally working for me. Supernatural Sherlock Homes in late 1800’s New England, with a female protagonist I really like in the Watsonish role.

Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)Marked in Flesh (The Others, #4)

Marked in Flesh by Anne Bishop – this is on a 7-day library loan, so I actually need to read it really quickly. It’s not that I can’t read a book in a week, but this series is a slower type of read that I prefer to take my time with, so this might be tricky.

NimonaNimonaNimona

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson – I’ve been hearing from so many bloggers and reviewers that this is a must-read, and I’m excited to check it out.

The Yellow WallpaperThe Yellow WallpaperThe Yellow Wallpaper

The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman – technically a short story I have on e-book. So far I have read exactly zero classics in 2016, so I should get on this.

1Q841Q841Q84

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – This book sounds absolutely amazing. I definitely will be starting it this month, but it is very, very long, so I doubt I’ll be able to finish it this month as well.

Through the WoodsThrough the WoodsThrough the Woods

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – another graphic novel, this one is supposed to be quite spooky. I read a really positive review on Goodreads from Patrick Rothfuss that made me check this out from the library.

Every Heart a DoorwayEvery Heart a DoorwayEvery Heart a Doorway

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire – I just requested this short novel from the library. It’s a new release about children who return to the real world after getting lost in fantasy stories. It may be a good option for Dewey’s since it’s fairly short and has been getting amazing reviews on Goodreads.

Appetites: Why Women WantAppetites: Why Women WantAppetites: Why Women Want

Appetites by Caroline Knapp – This book has been sitting on my TBR pile mocking me since college.

Mr. SplitfootMr. SplitfootMr. Splitfoot

Mr. Splitfoot by Samantha Hunt – I do really, really want to read this, but I’m not sure if I’ll be able to fit it in this month. Never say never!

 

I’d love to hear what everyone is planning on reading this month! What’s on your TBR lists? Anyone else participating in the Readathon?

 

March Reading Wrap-Up

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March, for me, was the month of the #Weirdathon, hosted by Outlandish Lit. I set ridiculously high goals (and a ridiculously high TBR stack) due to my love of weird fiction, and although I didn’t read even half of what I set out to, I absolutely loved the commitment to reading weirdly. I loved it so much that I plan to continue the #Weirdathon in spirit throughout this spring by keeping up with my weirdest TBR books.

 

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March Reading Summary:

Total books read in March: 5

#Weirdathon books I read in March: 3

#readmyowndamnbooks: 3

Audiobooks: 1

Read Harder Challenge tasks completed: 2

βœ“ 3. Read a collection of essays (Bad Feminist)

βœ“ 9. Listen to an audiobook that has won an Audie Award (Bossypants)

Goodreads 2016 Challenge: I’m at 18/50 (6 books ahead of schedule)

 

So, what did I read this month?

Bossypants by Tina FeyThe Rook by Daniel O'MalleyBad Feminist by Roxane Gay

Bossypants by Tina Fey (3 stars) – Fey is really likable, but this book was just okay for me. I did find it easy to listen to since it was read by a comedian, but it wasn’t an amazing read. The part I liked best was the discussion of her Sarah Palin impersonation on SNL.

The Rook by Daniel O’Malley (4.25 stars) – see my review here (https://beachesandbooks.wordpress.com/2016/03/13/weirdathon-update-weeks-12/). To summarize, this book is funny, weird, and absorbing, and you should read it right now.

Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay (5 stars) – for some reason, I had anticipated this book being more of a light-hearted satire of feminism, and wasn’t expecting the emotionally wrenching, thought-provoking, completely amazing read that it was.

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett ThomasTrigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas (4 stars)Β  – again, for some reason I was expecting this to be much sillier than it turned out to be. Ariel, a Ph.D. student researching thought experiments from the 1800s (seriously, how cool is that PhD topic?) finds a book believed to be cursed in that everyone who has ever read it has died or disappeared–including her thesis advisor. Through the cursed book, she discovers the way to enter an alternate dimension called the Troposphere, which allows her to enter the minds of other people and jump through time. It’s a very odd and philosophical read–it starts out slow, and then becomes gripping. I thought that Ariel’s character was sort of flat, but the plot and scientific concepts were fascinating and I really enjoyed the book.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (3.5 stars) – This was more of a 3-star read for me until the last couple of stories. I love Neil Gaiman’s writing, but this was my least favorite of the three short story collections of his that I’ve read. That being said, it was still quite good, and my favorites were the Doctor Who story and the American Gods novella. Also, his introductions are always fantastic–they’re very thoughtful, and he gives insight into each of the stories. It sounds like he’s going to write another American Gods novella set after the one in this collection, and then possibly follow that up with a full-length sequel, if I’m interpreting it right.

 

 

What did everyone enjoy reading this month?

 

 

March Book Haul!!!

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This month, I did not go a little crazy with book buying. I went a lot crazy.

But! I am so ridiculously excited about all of the books I found this month, so it works out πŸ™‚

North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell – I fell in love with the BBC miniseries version of this novel (I’ve seen it 3 or 4 times) and really wanted to be able to read the original novel. This will also help me with my goal to read more classics this year.

1Q84 by Haruki Murakami – After reading The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle last year, I’ve been anxious to start another Murakami book, and the concept of this one has fascinated me for years.

Embassytown by China Mieville – I’ve read two previous books by this author (Perdido Street Station and The City and the City), and both were wonderfully weird. This one is supposedly focused on language and the interactions between humans and an alien race.

And Again by Jessica Chiarella – I won this awesome and unique-sounding book in a giveaway from Tor.com! It’s a debut novel about disabled people given a second chance at life in perfect new versions of their bodies.

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I loved this book so much that I wasn’t content just to check it out from the library and read it once–I had to buy a copy so that I could repetitively re-read it.

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski – I’m so fascinated by this complex and notoriously difficult to read horror novel.

The Vampire Book: The Encyclopedia of the Undead by J. Gordon Melton – because of course I need a reference text for my love of vampires.

 

 

Top Ten Tuesday: Ten of the Best Books I’ve Read Recently

 

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish (http://www.brokeandbookish.com/p/top-ten-tuesday-other-features.html).

This was supposed to be my last ten 5-star reads, but 5-star reads are so rare for me that I’d not only be rehashing my best books of 2015, but reaching back into 2014 as well. So here are ten of the best books I’ve read recently, including 5- and 4-star reads that I really enjoyed. I’ve ranked them starting with the most recent and moving backwards.

 

The End of Mr. Y

 

  1. The End of Mr. Y by Scarlett Thomas – creative and extremely odd, with interesting literary and scientific references. #Weirdathon.

 

Bad Feminist

 

 

2. Bad Feminist by Roxane Gay – poignant, thought-provoking nonfiction that made me laugh and want to cry.

 

The Rook (The Checquy Files, #1)

 

3. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley – fast-paced and hilarious story of magic, amnesia, and espionage. #Weirdathon.

 

Fledgling

 

4. Fledgling by Octavia Butler – modern take on vampires that also dissects aspects of racism and consent in relationships.

 

The Passion

 

5. The Passion by Jeannette Winterson – a meditation on the different kinds of obsession rendered in gorgeous prose.

 

To Say Nothing of the Dog (Oxford Time Travel, #2)

 

6. To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis – a hilarious take on time travel and British literature.

 

Magic for Beginners

 

7. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link – creative, original, and disturbing short stories.

 

Carry On

 

8. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell – are there really still people who haven’t read this book? Go read it immediately.

 

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1)

 

9. Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I checked this book out from the library when it debuted and loved it so much I just bought my own copy to re-read.

 

The Library at Mount Char

 

10. The Library at Mount Char by Scott Hawkins – weird and creative, like most books I enjoy.

 

What were some of the best books you’ve read recently?

 

 

It’s Monday! What are you reading?

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Right now I’m in the middle (almost the exact middle) of Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman. This will be the 3rd book of short stories I’ve read by this author, and so far it’s not living up to my expectations. I’m actually really sad about this–I’m a huge Neil Gaiman fan, and I loved the majority of the stories in both Fragile Things and Smoke and Mirrors, but for some reason I’m just not connecting with any of the stories in this collection yet. I still loved his thoughtful introduction and context for each of the stories that he tells, but the stories themselves so far are underwhelming. I really want to finish this before the end of the #Weirdathon, though, so I’m going to power through and hope that the stories get better. I know there’s an American Gods novella at the end, so I’ll have that to look forward to.

 

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This week I also DNF’d the audiobook version of The Book of Lost Things by John Connolly. This had nothing to do with the awesomeness of the story, and everything to do with the fact that I am unable to listen well enough to certain audiobooks to feel like I’m really getting everything out of them. I don’t like that I can’t reread sentences on audiobooks without jumping back aways (I listen to audiobooks on CDs) and I have trouble paying close attention to deeper meanings than I do when I read normally. I really want to read this in a physical book, though–I love the story concept so far.

 

What is everyone reading this week?

Favorite Book Trilogies

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Book trilogies, for whatever reason, are a thing. For some reason, three seems to be the perfect number of books in so many series, and I feel like lately literally every movie, no matter how terrible, inevitably gets two sequels. But book trilogies also include some of my favorite books of all time, and if you really love a book, the promise of three connected stories is the only thing that can console you after it’s finished. So here are my absolute favorite book trilogies!

 

Annihilation (Southern Reach, #1)Authority (Southern Reach, #2)Acceptance (Southern Reach, #3)

 

The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff Vandermeer – this trilogy helped me to realize how much I am drawn to weird fiction and creativity in writing, and inspire me to seek out more books in a similar vein. Vandermeer tells an eerie and consuming story that gains depth in each successive book.

 

Shatter Me (Shatter Me, #1)Unravel Me (Shatter Me, #2)Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)

 

The Shatter Me trilogy by Tahereh Mafi – I have an undying appreciation for this trilogy, because it got me through the extreme stress of my National Board exams. At this point I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve read it, because it lends itself extremely well to re-reads. And I love it, every time. I love the angst, the drama, the journal-esque style of the first book, and the villain-turned-love-interest. These are all elements that don’t always work for me in YA, but in the Shatter Me trilogy, it’s all perfect.

 

The Magicians (The Magicians, #1)The Magician King (The Magicians, #2)The Magician's Land (The Magicians, #3)

 

The Magicians trilogy by Lev Grossman – In these books, Grossman puts into words what fantasy readers have always felt: the longing to become a part of your favorite fantasy worlds, combined with the human traits that set us as real people apart from the heroic protagonists of fiction. I love this series because its characters are so flawed: they’re selfish, disillusioned, and paradoxically skeptical and full of hope; in short, they’re real. Because there’s only so long that you can trick yourself into thinking that you’d act like Harry Potter would in any given situation; the truth is that the majority of us would instead act like Quentin Coldwater.

 

Oryx and Crake (MaddAddam, #1)The Year of the Flood (MaddAddam, #2)MaddAddam (MaddAddam Trilogy #3)

 

The Maddaddam trilogy by Margaret Atwood – speaking of realistic, I still think that the futuristic society of Oryx and Crake is the most prescient and believable picture of society’s breakdown that I’ve ever read. Margaret Atwood is biting and creative, and her portrayal of society’s collapse is as intriguing as it is haunting.

 

The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Inheritance, #1)The Broken Kingdoms (Inheritance, #2)The Kingdom of Gods (Inheritance, #3)

 

The Inheritance trilogy by N.K. Jemisin – incredibly well-crafted fantasy world that changes completely over the course of the trilogy. My favorite by far was the first book, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, but this trilogy is a great example of one that can shift main characters and tone completely yet still remain coherent.

 

The Hunger Games (The Hunger Games, #1)Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Mockingjay (The Hunger Games, #3)

 

The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – I’ll admit, my enjoyment of the series did decrease slightly with each successive book, but it’s still one of my favorites. I love Katniss as a flawed, strong main character who is a hero because she’s forced into it, not born into it. I also think the series brings up a lot of interesting societal critiques, not the least of which is desensitization to violence through the media.

 

The Fellowship of the Ring (The Lord of the Rings, #1)The Two Towers (The Lord of the Rings, #2)The Return of the King (The Lord of the Rings, #3)

 

The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien – I’ve only ever read this as a single continuous story, and in that way it’s a trilogy that never felt like a trilogy to me. It’s epic and emotional, and masters the task of focusing on both the global and the personal.

 

 

What are your favorite book trilogies?

I write about nontraditional beach reads for nontraditional readers